Amid worries over sanctions, Iran’s Supreme Leader has criticized the US Presidential election, condemning a “lack of spirituality” in American politics.

Ayatollah Khamenei made the comments amid Iran’s challenge to continued US sanctions after the July 2015 nuclear deal.

Khamenei then addressed Iran’s difficulty in restoring financial and banking links, amid Washington’s denial of access to the US system and reluctance by European banks and companies because of fear of American punishment.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said last Friday that Iran’s “destabilizing” intervention in the Middle East and its ballistic missile tests “hugely” complicated efforts to ease the finanical restrictions.

The Supreme Leader replied on Wednesday:

Khamenei accused the US of continually moving the criteria for resolution:

We’ve repeated that if you retreat on the nuclear issue, they raise the missile issue. If you step back more they’ll get to support for Resistance.

If you withdraw more, they’ll advance to human rights and accepting their norms. Next they’ll seek removal of religious norms in governance.

Iran had hoped that January’s implementation of the nuclear agreement would soon bring economic recovery after years of sanctions, mismanagement, and corruption.

Tehran has restored 40% of its oil production and exports, approaching the levels before the harshest US and European sanctions in 2012. However, it is struggling to regain trade and investment to ensure growth, and the Rouhani Government is facing large budget deficit, in part because of ongoing low oil prices.

Rouhani Reshuffles Cabinet, 3 Ministers Resign

President Rouhani has carried out his first significant Cabinet changes since taking office in August 2013, with the resignation of three Ministers.

Culture Minister Ali Jannati, Education Minister Ali Asghar Fani, and Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Mahmoud Goudarzi have departed.

Interim ministers have been appointed. The Government will submit nominees for the permanent positions to Parliament next week.

Parliament was in the process of impeaching Fani, but has now cancelled the proceedings which were scheduled for October 25. Jannati has also been a regular target of hardline MPs who have challenged President Rouhani’s pursuit of political and cultural openness.

The moderate-reformist faction in Parliament praised the changes. Mohammad Reza Aref, the head of the bloc, said that it “should have happened two or three months ago” but added:

Now is a good time. We thank the President and the administration for doing this….The general feeling was that the cabinet had to be reshuffled in order to achieve a necessary and greater alignment between the Parliament and the administration.